They ate, they drank, they . . .
Dr. Jay Worth Allen
The people of God are thorns in Satan’s side - piercing his freedom, aggravating his plans - refusing to aid in the world’s construction, constantly persisting in pronouncing judgment upon its systems. Therefore the world becomes a source of constant grief to us - always developing and ever expanding its power to afflict God’s people; a confrontation in which the early Church was not challenged. The pioneer believers met open persecution - outward physical assaults upon their persons (Acts 12; 2 Corinthians 11) - now, the chief struggle we meet is a subtle, intangible force behind the world’s material property, which is unholy and spiritually evil.
In the Revelation we see Satan positioning his kingdom of antichrist in the political world (chapter 13), the religious world (chapter 17) and the commercial world (chapter 18) - with this three-fold dominion Satan will find his last violent expression upon mankind and the Church.
“As it came to pass in the days of Noah, even shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise even as it came to pass in the days of Lot; they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but in the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:26-29). Sin and violence will be greater than ever, at the close of this age, but that’s not specifically what the Church will grapple with. Our struggle will be the spiritual appeal from everyday things. The point the Lord is making here is not that food, marriage, trade, agriculture, engineering, and the like, were outstanding characteristics of Lot’s and Noah’s day, but they will, in a special way characterize the last days. “After the same manner shall it be in the day that the Son of man is revealed”: that’s His point. It’s the mundane, the ordinary “as in the days of Noah” we, the Church will be tempted with in the last days.
Eating, marriage, trade, etc. - are not inherently sinful; they are simply undertakings in which human beings participate. But have we ever paid so much attention to the good life as now? Food and clothing have become the special burden of God’s children today. What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we put on? What shall we drive? For many believers these are the lone objects of conversation - because our bills (which come from consuming what the world or what religion tells us to invest) are greater than our wages. In many Churches, Christian conferences, and especially on Christian television, the sole topic of discussion is the prosperity of the Church or the financial needs of the Church, or some special personal fiscal need; the unique theme of many ministries today is not teaching the saints of God in the ways of God, but rather, the securing of an abundance of stuff - the opulence of material objects are said to be proof of the blessings of God on the people of God - or praying for God to deliver a dear saint from dire poverty. Both of these are unnatural.
The Lord warned us, “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness” and so on. He bids us first to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and assures us as we do so, all these (other) things will be added to us. He bids us to be carefree regarding matters of food, clothing and shelter, for if God cares for the flowers of the field and the birds of the air, will He not much preferably care for us? But looking at the anxieties of today it would seem that food, clothing and shelter are cared for - most considered, most worried for - but righteousness is not!
This condition we find ourselves in is totally abnormal. The undue attention to eating and drinking (I’m not speaking about beer, wine and the like), whether at the extremes of substance or luxury, or the fear of not having enough, which characterizes so many Christians these days, is far from normal; it is in a word, supernatural. It’s not just a question of food or drink or clothing we are meeting here; we are meeting demons. Satan conceived and now controls the world order, and is prepared to use demonic power through the things of the world to lure us into it. “Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another” - over what? maybe things of this world - “and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:10,11). Could the wanting and teaching of prosperity be a deception? Could the fear of not having enough food be from the enemy? Our present state of affairs cannot be accounted for apart from this. In the pressures of today we are so confused and bewildered that we seem unable to trust the Lord. Just as Israel, we are testing the Lord. “They soon forgot His works; they waited not for His counsel, but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tested God in the desert. And He gave them their request, but sent leanness to their soul” (Psalms 106). When our abundance is granted, we may pay the price of leanness of our souls.
Marrying and the giving in marriage are wholesome and normal in any age, but today there is an element within marriage and families which is unnatural. Christian book stores are packed with shelves devoted to the problems and conditions of Christian marriage and families. Dozens of radio and television programs are concerned with nothing more than the problems facing Christian marriages and families. This was not true just a few years back.
Insurance companies and advertisers prey on us - consider your children’s welfare, higher education, food, clothes, houses, etc. - 24 hours a day. Many a marriage has been bankrupt because of an unnatural desire for simple, everyday things. There is a power, a subtle intangible force, which burdens us to consider simple matters; our very existence (or so we think) demands that we pay attention to them. This is not from God.
There is confusion in our young people as they break with old traditions but lack guidance of any new ones to replace them. This fact is not to be accounted for naturally, but supernaturally. So it is with planting and building, and so too with buying and selling. All these things can be perfectly legitimate and beneficial, but today the power behind them presses upon men until they become bewildered and lose their balance.
The question today is not so much one of sinfulness, as of worldliness. Who would dare to say we’re doing wrong by eating or drinking? Who would dare to disapprove of marrying and giving in marriage? Who would question our right to buy and sell? These things are not in themselves wrong; the wrong lies in the spiritual force behind them, which, through their medium, presses relentlessly upon us. These matters are so common and so simple to us, yet they are being used by Satan to ensnare us into his great net of world order.
“Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day come on you suddenly as a snare” (Luke 21:34 AV). Much has been said about “surfeiting, drunkenness,” but how much have we heard about the “cares of this life?” The word “life” here is the word (in the adjective form) biotikos. Not zoe, spiritual life, not psuche, psychological life, but rather bios, biological life - “cares of this (physical) life” - the quintessence of eating, drinking and what-we-will-wear life. The Lord warned us not to be unduly pressed with this physical life’s cares. That is to say, with anxieties regarding quite ordinary matters such as food, drink and dress - which belongs to our present existence on the earth. It was over a simple matter of eating which caused Adam’s fall, and it may be due to just such a simple provision which cause some of us to overlook our call. For it is always a matter of where our heart is, not our stomach. We are exhorted not to let our hearts be “overcharged” or “laden” with these things to our loss. We are to be in a true sense detached in spirit from our worldly possessions in our house or in our field (Luke 17:31).
We dare not take our destiny as a matter of course, but we must be on guard, constantly on the alert to be sure we are truly disentangled in spirit from the elements of this world. There are things of the world which are essential to our physical existence - food, clothing, shelter, and the like. But to be concerned with them is illegitimate, to be weighed down by them is iniquitous and may cause us to forfeit God’s best. We’re in a precarious realm when we touch commerce. The problem which confronts us these days is not how to refrain from buying and selling, from eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, but rather, how do we avoid the power behind these things, for we dare not let that power triumph over us.
It is the mundane, the ordinary - “they ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise even as it came to pass in the days of Lot; they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but in the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:26-29).
My brothers, let us be vigilant and spiritually on the alert. The Day approaches!
They ate, they drank, they . . .
Published: 28 April 2010 on Freed In Christ! blogsite.
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